Vendor hopes Sogi site for market okay for customers

A longtime Savalalo market vendor says she has no issues relocating but hopes the new site at Sogi will be convenient for customers such as tourists.

Florina Brewster, who has been a stall owner since 2007 and was among the many affected by the 2016 market fire, said she has heard about the plans to relocate the market over the years.

But they would rather play a waiting game and see how the Government progresses its plan, though concerns whether tourists will walk to Sogi to visit the market remain.

“I don’t mind the plans honestly, whenever they feel like doing it then it’s alright with me,” she told the Samoa Observer.

“Here (at Savalalo) we have lots of customers. All the tourists come by because it’s busy and closer to them.”

She started working at the market in 2005 looking after her mother’s shop while in school, before branching out on her own two years later.

“I was still in school then at Samoa College, and then in 2007 I started my own business here.”

In 2016 she was among those who suffered losses from the fire which burnt down the market and led to the loss of $1,000 worth of products.

“I was lucky to have bought my stock earlier that year and was able to start back to normal again when this place was built. I’m grateful to the Government for this temporary market,” she added.

The vendors currently pay rent to the Samoa Land Corporation (S.L.C.), which increased the fee to $8 tala from $6 tala. 

But Ms Brewster said the prices for their goods have dropped in recent times despite the increase in rent.

"The prices for our handicrafts and items have gone down but not the rent. The space is smaller than what we usually paid for."

Located adjacent to the food selling area, her stall is often occupied by hungry adults, tourists and school children.

But with the school year scheduled to start in a month, Ms Brewster hopes the market will not become a location for another student brawl, as it has led to vendors’ stalls like hers getting damaged. 

“It would be better if they put a sign up or something to stop that from happening more often,” she said. 

When asked about concerns expressed by other vendors of the market being vulnerable to bad weather, Ms Brewster said it is normal and her colleagues should look at the positive side.

“Our people like to complain. But they should be looking at the positive side of what’s going on.” 

The current Savalalo market was built four years ago to be a temporary facility for vendors and their customers after fire burnt down the original market in 2016. 

S.L.C. has advised the public of its plans to relocate the market to Sogi but it is not known when that will happen.

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